Vaccine-autism claims, "Frankenfood" bans, the herbal cure craze: All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason, says Michael Specter. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress.
Natalie Merchant sings from her poetry-inspired album "Leave Your Sleep," which pairs lyrics from poets -- from Gerard Manley Hopkins to a near-forgotten 10-year-old girl in Brooklyn -- with simple melodies and her unmistakable voice. Stay for an encore performance of her hit "Thank You," dedicated to a notable philanthropist in the audience.
Pollen goes unnoticed by most of us, except when hay fever strikes. But microscopes reveal it comes in stunning colors and shapes -- and travels remarkably well. Jonathan Drori gives an up-close glimpse of these fascinating flecks of plant courtship.
Meet seven all-terrain robots -- like the humanoid, soccer-playing DARwIn and the cliff-gripping CLIMBeR -- built by Dennis Hong's robotics team at RoMeLa, based at Virginia Tech. Watch to the end for the five creative secrets to his lab's success.
Soldiers who've lost limbs in service face a daily struggle unimaginable to most of us. At TEDMED, Dean Kamen talks about the profound people and stories that motivated his work to give parts of their lives back with his design for a remarkable prosthetic arm.
Armed with bracing logic, wit and her "public-health nerd" glasses, Elizabeth Pisani reveals the myriad of inconsistencies in today's political systems that prevent our dollars from effectively fighting the spread of HIV. Her research with at-risk populations -- from junkies in prison to sex workers on the street in Cambodia -- demonstrates the sometimes counter-intuitive measures that could stall the spread of this devastating disease.
Games are invading the real world -- and the runaway popularity of Farmville and Guitar Hero is just the beginning, says Jesse Schell. At the DICE Summit, he makes a startling prediction: a future where 1-ups and experience points break "out of the box" and into every part of our daily lives.
Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs "childish" thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids' big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups' willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.
How many of today's headlines will matter in 100 years? 1000? Kirk Citron's "Long News" project collects stories that not only matter today, but will resonate for decades -- even centuries -- to come. At TED2010, he highlights recent headlines with the potential to shape our future.
Educating the poor is more than just a numbers game, says Shukla Bose. She tells the story of her groundbreaking Parikrma Humanity Foundation, which brings hope to India's slums by looking past the daunting statistics and focusing on treating each child as an individual.
In this moving yet pragmatic talk, Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery, a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth. He shares stats and personal stories from his on-the-ground research -- and names the price of freeing every slave on earth right now.
Patsy Rodenburg says the world needs actors more than ever. In this talk at Michael Howard Studios, she tells the story of a profound encounter that reveals the deeper role theater can play in people's lives.
Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician -- and what he learned. Called back onstage later, Gupta plays his own transcription of the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.
Planetary scientist Joel Levine shows some intriguing -- and puzzling -- new discoveries about Mars: craters full of ice, traces of ancient oceans, and compelling hints at the presence, sometime in the past, of life. He makes the case for going back to Mars to find out more.
Tax forms, credit agreements, healthcare legislation: They're crammed with gobbledygook, says Alan Siegel, and incomprehensibly long. He calls for a simple, sensible redesign -- and plain English -- to make legal paperwork intelligible to the rest of us.
Biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira, a TED Senior Fellow, talks about her work helping to save birds and other animals stolen from the wild in Brazil. Once these animals are seized from smugglers, she asks, then what?
Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.
Where does creative inspiration spring from? At TEDIndia, Hollywood/Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur ("Elizabeth," "Mr. India") pinpoints his source of creativity: sheer, utter panic. He shares a powerful way to unleash your inner storyteller.
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
Blind river dolphins, reclusive lemurs, a parrot as fearless as it is lovelorn ... Douglas Adams' close encounters with these rare and unusual animals reveal that evolution, ever ingenious, can be fickle too -- in a University of California talk that sparkles with his trademark satiric wit.
At TEDMED, Eric Dishman makes a bold argument: The US health care system is like computing circa 1959, tethered to big, unwieldy central systems: hospitals, doctors, nursing homes. As our aging population booms, it's imperative, he says, to create personal, networked, home-based health care for all.
Mark Roth studies suspended animation: the art of shutting down life processes and then starting them up again. It's wild stuff, but it's not science fiction. Induced by careful use of an otherwise toxic gas, suspended animation can potentially help trauma and heart attack victims survive long enough to be treated.
At the Web 2.0 Expo, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk gives a shot in the arm to dreamers and up-and-comers who face self-doubt. The Internet has made the formula for success simpler than ever, he argues. So there's now no excuse not to do what makes you happy.
Sugar pills, injections of nothing -- studies show that, more often than you'd expect, placebos really work. At TEDMED, magician Eric Mead does a trick to prove that, even when you know something's not real, you can still react as powerfully as if it is. (Warning: This talk is not suitable for viewers who are disturbed by needles or blood.)
The second deadliest day in the history of Mount Everest climbs happened in 1996 -- and Ken Kamler was the only doctor on the mountain that day. He shares the incredible story of the climbers' battle to save lives in extreme conditions, and uses brain imaging technology to map the medical miracle of one man who survived roughly 36 hours buried in the snow.
Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie's honeymoon he's enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised using a revolutionary farming method in Spain.
Fifty percent of traffic accidents happen at intersections. Gary Lauder shares a brilliant and cheap idea for helping drivers move along smoothly: a new traffic sign that combines the properties of "Stop" and "Yield."
At TED2009, Tim Berners-Lee called for "raw data now" -- for governments, scientists and institutions to make their data openly available on the web. At TED University in 2010, he shows a few of the interesting results when the data gets linked up.
We all strive for happiness -- but we spend most of our lives learning to be unhappy, says Srikumar Rao. In this practical talk, he teaches how to break free of the "I'd be happy if ..." mental model, and embrace our hard-wired happiness.